The Great American Bash ’90

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John Daigle

Recently, the thing to do has been to review a previous PPV that ties in to a current topic. For instance, when Punk retired, we reviewed what’s arguably considered to be his finest moment. When Lesnar was rumored to return and fight Cena, we reviewed their most recent bout. And when we couldn’t find anything pertaining to the present, admittedly, mistakes were made. But realize we’re not forcing the issue. The point of this pointless endeavor is to justify the hours spent watching The Network. If paths align, great. If not, no worries. We’ll simply grasp onto the random, riveting, and sometimes incorrect choice and roll with the punches.

Having said that, Bash at the Beach ’90 is one of those events that seemingly connects past with present. I’ll explain how in a bit. But first: I’m sorry. It seemed like a good idea, then I started watching. Now, the results aren’t all that bad. In fact, I dare say it should be graded in halves, the first of which should be thrown directly into a burning dumpster. However, it eventually steers itself back into normalcy. (But man, those first few matches…)

Kevin Bowden

I honestly have no idea how you plan on connecting this one. Hopefully it’s not a 6-degrees-from-John-Cena connection.

Michael Edwards

It’s obviously Sting returning. Or maybe Ric Flair showing up briefly. Or Paul Heyman. I guess I don’t know.

1990 was during that overwhelming period in which your body-type meant more than your skill. There were outliers, as with anything, but for the most part, big muscles equaled big success. Unfortunately, it fell just short of big skill and entertainment.

Kevin Bowden

You say this like things have changed…

Michael Edwards

Yeah, they’re still pretty much the same. Hopefully that all fades away when also large dude Triple H takes over, but Vince has to bite the dust for that to ever happen.

Back to those aforementioned matches. For the sake of everything holy, let’s just machine-gun-style the results, like how David Sierra defeated Mr. X; Brian Pillman (trust me, not worth it) pinned Buddy Landell; Mike Rotunda beat the Iron Sheik (his twitter account is much more enjoyable); Doug Furnas defeated both Dutch Mantel and his hairy undershirt; and Harley Race pinned Tommy Rich. You’re welcome.

Kevin Bowden

I couldn’t stop staring at Iron Sheik’s shoes…were they going for an elf look? Even back then, Dutch Mantel a.k.a. Zeb Coulter looked like someone’s grandpa that got lost and just wondered into the ring. I agree though, nothing to see here folks. Move along.

Michael Edwards

Dude, Iron Sheik always wore those shoes.

Anyway, the only “high flying” moment in this match for Flyin’ Brian was the finish, and that wasn’t that great. You’d think the audience never saw such a thing by their reaction, though. Ah, WCW fans. As for Dirty Dutch, he represented the other group of wrestling “talent” from back when: Dudes who just knew how to wrestle, no matter the skill.

First up, the Southern Boys (Tracy Smothers and Steve Armstrong) battled the Midnight Express (Bobby Eaton and Stan Lane) for the United States Tag Team Championship, which is apparently separate from the World Tag Team Championship. I don’t know, either. Either way, the Southern Boys came out wearing vests that featured a bedazzled Confederate Flag on the back, so really, they win no matter what. Unfortunately, the Midnight Express retained their titles by pinning Smothers. A good match, but pivotal because this was when the crowd began their noticeable uptick.

Kevin Bowden

The Real Americans of the 90’s. If only Zeb had started managing sooner, he could’ve built a two-decade long faction. Missed opportunities, Vince.

Michael Edwards

How many teams were named something-“Express” back then? The only highlight for me here was Jim Cornette.

Next, Vader debuted, and forget what I said about the Southern Boys because he wins everything.

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Being his inaugural match and all, “Big Van” cruised to an easy victory over Tom Zenk.

Michael Edwards

Does anyone else like Vader the person but not Vader the wrestler?

The Steiner Brothers (obvious) fought The Fabulous Freebirds (Jimmy Garvin and Michael Hayes) in what was arguably the most over match of the night. The Steiners were HUGE (and that’s not just a roid joke). Also, it might draw ire, but I really think the Freebirds could make it in the Reality Era. Not so much them personally, of course. But that gimmick was wonderful. Furthermore, even in drawing the most noise at any given time, neither of these duos were the current World Tag Team Champions. (Once again, I don’t get it either.) But Scott Steiner pinned Hayes and, though this match featured quite a few shenanigans (Rick Steiner biting the ass of a grown man, for one) and one noticeable “BRITISH CIGARETTE!” chant (like, literally, a chant), it was overall an entertaining 15 minutes.

Kevin Bowden

I didn’t think about that but you’re completely right. I think the Freebirds gimmick would fit right in. On another note, fuck the Steiner’s.

Michael Edwards

The Freebirds gimmick would work today, but wow, were they not The Freebirds on this night. It’s like someone told them that glam and hair rock were popular, so they did absolutely nothing different for their look except wear lipstick, eye shadow, and rub glitter into their beard. Imagine Lynyrd Skynrd rubbing glitter into their beard just cause it’s 1990.

Oh, and Steiners for Hall of Fame.

Paul Orndorff, the Junkyard Dog, and El Gigante defeated Sid Vicious, Arn Anderson, and Barry Windham because the latter trio saw THIS and really, can you blame them for running away?

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Mark Callous (a.k.a. the Undertaker) w/ Paul E. Dangerously (a.k.a. Paul Heyman) challenged Lex Luger for the United States Championship and unfortunately, he was really bad at tearing shirts.

UndertakerWCW

This was an interesting look at the Undertaker and Paul Heyman prior to being the Undertaker and Paul Heyman. It shouldn’t shock anyone that Paul E. was great on the mic and Callous was technically sound, even back then. Hell, he even reverted (or in this case, used) “Old School” at one point during the match. Still, a younger Jim Ross kept mentioning the odds that Luger would have to overcome in order to beat Callous, meaning he would totally beat Callous. And he did via clothesline to retain the title.

Kevin Bowden

Paul E. is the one behind the one in 21-1 and also the one behind the 21 in 21-1.

The one thing I noticed about Paul E.’s promo was how much he was yelling. Paul Heyman’s promos now are much more calculated and deliberate. He was great back then and now, he’s a god.

Michael Edwards

Lex Luger overcoming the odds? Sounds familiar. The thing to get out of this match was a look at young Undertaker, but otherwise that’s about it. Not much you can do when it’s Luger you’re up against.

Doom (Ron Simmons and Butch Reed) w/ Teddy Long (R.I.P.) defended their apparently-existent World Tag Team Titles against the Rock’n’Roll Express (Ricky Morton and Robert Gibson). Unfortunately, this match was nowhere near the caliber of the Steiners-Freebirds clash and, once again, that wasn’t even for the titles. Simmons eventually got the pin after a flying shoulder-butt to Gibson.

And now, since we’ve come full-circle, the main event was the motivation behind reviewing this particular PPV. With Sting rumored to return, I decided to watch what’s considered to be one of his more illustrious matches. Fighting Ric Flair for the World Heavyweight Championship, each wrestler was backed by their cohorts (Four Horsemen for Flair, and DUDES WITH ATTITUDES for Sting). If anything, it was crazy to witness just how much Flair’s style hasn’t changed over time. Much like RVD (except at a different level), it’s as if Flair never aged, always using the same tactics with the same agility over and over again. Flair attempted to cheat once, but the DUDES WITH ATTITUDE (!!!) helped Sting out, eventually leading to his first World Championship. Afterwards, Sting was interviewed and thanked Flair for being such a great champion. Shoot me.

Kevin Bowden

I think one of the reasons he was able to continue wrestling for so long was that he invented a very entertaining low-impact style and stuck with it his entire career. Not saying it’s a bad thing. It probably just shows you how smart he was about his career.

Michael Edwards

Very good point. I, along with many others it seems, would like to learn a little more about Sting and his career, but honestly everything I’ve seen and read makes it seem like a “good match” for Sting just meant a good story or good hype, but didn’t really deliver in the ring. I guess you could say that about a lot of WCW.

Let’s be honest: This could have gone much worse. Though I was ready to break my computer after a few matches, Jekyll went Hyde and turned this thing completely around. I’m still not sure how much further I’ll be willing to dive into the WCW archives, but for now…well, it could have gone worse.

Kevin Bowden

I’d love to see a great WCW PPV. Although I’m not holding my breath…

Michael Edwards

I really want to find one as well. There has to be one. There has to.

John Daigle’s Grade: C+

Kevin Bowden’s Grade: C-

Mike Edwards’s Grade: D

Average Grade: C-

Next Time: SummerSlam 2002

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